GEUKENS & DE VIL
Leopoldplaats 12, 1st floor
Upon entering the space, Joris Van de Moortel (°1983, Ghent) hits the visitor with his monumental work The revelation of Matur, an apocalypse of many (2022). The work contains numerous art-historical references: the woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer (1741-1528) (including The Revelation of St.John, the opening of the 5th and 6th seals), the Mannerist style of El Greco (1541-1614) and De Dulle Griet by Brueghel (1525/30-1569). At the top, the Matur – Le Mat or The Fool character from the Tarot – plays the double flute. Accompanied by 'Chant figures' and 'Treble angels' with, among other things, musical attributes, he looks down on the Day of Judgment, when the sun turns black, and the moon turns red as blood, and a shower of stars descends on skeletons with human masks tempting the soul to dance the dance of death. The photos and neon numbers refer to the four elements (water, wind, fire, air) and the seven sacraments (glass, smoke,fire, white, wax, nature, vandal) that Van de Moortel uses in his performances. Through repeated references to the Apocalypse, obscure symbolism and art-historical references, Van de Moortel holds up an unpleasant mirror to the viewer. How can we start acting actively to save both our soul (soul) and our earth (soil)?
The reasons for an imminent decline? A strong population growth, overexploitation of raw materials, deforestation, pollution, … these are just a few examples that cause an overload on the earth. Maarten Vanden Eynde (°1977, Leuven) draws attention to the latter with his work Plastic Reef (2008). He fished a ton of plastic waste from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. He then melted this waste into an unnatural reef, denouncing both the pollution of oceans and the disappearance of coral reefs. A natural element is placed in the center of the coral reef, a small organic coral that survives in a sea of plastic soup.
The work 4 Step Shovel (2015) by Laure Prouvost (°1978, Croix) is placed on a mountain of earth. Like an archaeologist/anthropologist, the artist brings out older layers of earth, and the associated history and memories, to investigate them. It is a process that parallels her determined search for the mysteries of human nature. She digs to formulate answers and gain insight into the human condition, the way we interact with our ancestors and grandparents and our natural environment. The work is part of a series based on the film Burrow Me (2009) about Prouvost's fictional grandfather, a conceptual artist who went missing 20 years ago while digging a tunnel during a performance: “With your bare hands or with a shovel, dig into the ground, climb through the narrow burrow. Covered in sand and gravel, among the dirt, you might find a granddad wandering through the subterranean passages”.
In the adjacent space, Windswept (2021) is a monumental tree assembled from pieces of driftwood, by Els Dietvorst (°1964, Antwerp). While walking along the coast of Ireland (where the artist lives and works), Dietvorst discovered that the trees take a curved shape due to the continuous wind. These are known as shrugs by the locals. Windswept can be seen as a vulnerable shelter that offers protection against gusts of wind or rainfall. Nature offers us a safe and secure harbour, but what do we give back? Dietvorst takes a look at this selfishness but also wants to create interaction between different groups in society through art as a vehicle for communication between the public and the environment. The work also reflects on the relationship between our generous hometown (the Earth) and its inhabitants (ourselves).
At the left of the chimney, Loïc Van Zeebroek (°1994, Nazareth) shows a mysterious landscape Untitled/Landscape (2022). Van Zeebroek departs from botanical work, Renaissance art, and classical (romantic) landscape painting, which he removes of ballast and transforms into 'quiet areas'. They are dream worlds in which introspection is central. The charged and depressed atmosphere that the landscape entails reflects on the threat and the sublime nature of nature that forces man to modesty.
En guerre avec la terre (2021) by Arpaïs Du Bois (°1973, Ghent) builds on this theme. Nature rebels against the over-exploitation of its resources, which means that we are constantly exceeding its natural limits. In response, we are faced with increasingly extreme weather conditions and climate disasters. The earth colors that seem to explode at work visualize both our attack on the earth and the repercussion of our planet.